Unique, beautiful or strange; how do you select the best name?

Naming characters can be hard. Is for me. I worry over them like newborn babes.


Just how important is choosing the right name?

Turns out very! That is if you want to write memorable characters. No writer wants their readers to go whats-his-name killed whois.No, we want our characters to come alive on paper. Well, how do we select really good names? I don’t know all the answers but Anne R. Allen wrote a post…

10 Tips for Finding Memorable Character Names for your Fiction

In her post, she gives us ten things to consider when selecting names.

  1. Name only star players.
    • I love this tip. A delivery guy is just a delivery guy.
  2. Don’t confuse readers with same sounding names.
  3. Don’t change names in the middle of the story.
    • Nickname? State it up front and go with it. I need to give this some thought.
  4. Make sure the name fits the century.
  5. Check the spelling and name is familiar in the country, state you’re writing about.
  6. Don’t make up fake names unless writing fantasy.
    • Only works for fake worlds.
  7. Run your chosen names through Google.
    • Good advice. Don’t want the name to be a real person living around the corner.
  8. Avoid overused names.
    • Hmm, may have a problem here. Got work to do.
  9. Try name generators.
    • I like Scrivener generator but there are several on the web.
    • Check the obituaries for a cool name.
  10. If you decide to change a name mid-stride of your WIP, do a search and replace to catch each one.

I believer her tips could also apply to places.

Click on Anne’s link above and read her entire post, she gives a lot more information and a few great resource links.

Well? What did you think?

Do you need to change a characters name?

Think you are better prepared to select a name?

Do you have any good tips to share for picking the perfect name?




18 thoughts on “Unique, beautiful or strange; how do you select the best name?

  1. More than the right century, too: in contemporary-ish stories, check your decade. I try to look up most common baby names in the years surrounding when my (say) 20th century American characters would have been born. A Nancy and a Dave are fine teens for stories set in the 70s, but sound really off by the 90s.


  2. Great points. I agree with not naming minor characters. As you say, if they’re only there to deliver a pizza, no need to name them if they don’t play a pivotal role in the scene.

    I recently had to change the last name of one of my characters in my current WIP. It was the same name as someone who just went through a big trial for molesting athletes. Yikes! Need to move on from that one.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good tips, I always try to Google names (and book titles) just so I don’t accidentally use some really popular character name I’m unaware of that might actually be copyrighted or trademarked. Plus, I want my characters to have their spotlight, not have my readers picturing someone else in their mind, because there’s already a really popular character with their name.

    The choosing process varies. My characters usually give me their names and I rarely ever argue, because those are the names that fit them. When I really like a name first and try to build a character around it, the process of digging out their personality seems to take longer. Sometimes, I specifically search for culturally accurate names (i.e. Nordic, French, etc.) due to the story line. Once a name clicks, though, it’s magic.

    Liked by 2 people

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